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Paleopathology in Perspective Bone Health and Disease Through Time by Elizabeth Weiss

Paleopathology in Perspective Bone Health and Disease Through Time

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Paleopathology in Perspective Bone Health and Disease Through Time by Elizabeth Weiss

Our bones can reveal fascinating information about how we have lived, from the food we have eaten to our levels of activity and the infections and injuries we have suffered. Elizabeth Weiss introduces readers to how lifestyle-in complex interaction with biology, genes, and environment-affects health in this distinctive tour of human osteology, past and present. Centering on health issues that have arisen in the last 50 to 60 years rather than thousands of years ago, Paleopathology in Perspective is organized around particular bone traits such as growth patterns, back pains, infections, and oral health. Each chapter explains one category of traits and reviews data drawn from both ancient and more contemporary populations to explore how global trait trends have changed over time. Weiss also considers the likely causes of these changes-for example, the growth of obesity, increased longevity, and greater intensity of childhood sports. Taking a long view of bones, as Weiss clearly demonstrates, provides clues not just about how ancient humans once lived, but also how biology and behavior, lifestyle and health, remain intrinsically linked.


This book is an important resource for students of ancient disease. It successfully integrates paleopathological and modern biomedical data to provide an overview of how socio-economic and lifestyle factors affect the frequency of bone and dental diseases from prehistory to the present day. Technical jargon is kept to a minimum, each substantive chapter ends with a concise conclusions section summarizing the main points, and there is an up-to-date and extensive bibliography. -- Simon Mays, Human Skeletal Biologist, English Heritage The book presents a comprehensive overview of the major categories of pathological conditions observed in human skeletal remains, described in terms that newcomers to the field can appreciate. What makes it different from most texts, however, are the extensive discussions of possible factors affecting the conditions taken from modern clinical studies. Students and experienced scholars alike will appreciate this unique perspective. -- Marie Danforth, University of Southern Mississippi Paleopathology in Perspective fills a currently empty niche, particularly for advanced students. Weiss integrates biological concepts with historical and archaeological perspectives to present paleopathology in an admirably accessible fashion. She utilizes deep time perspectives to cover the ills attendant to our species
upright posture and advanced age (such as degenerative maladies of the vertebral column and osteoarthritis) as well as congenital defects

, infectious diseases, and our prospective future health. The result is a substantive contribution to our knowledge of human disease-past, present, and future. -- Jane E. Buikstra, Arizona State University

About the Author

Elizabeth Weiss is professor of anthropology at San Jose State University. Her publications include Reburying the Past, Bioarchaeological Science, and Introduction to Human Evolution.

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Book Info

Publication date

18th December 2014


Elizabeth Weiss

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AltaMira Press,U.S.


266 pages


Medical anthropology



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